by: Belladonna for Sanguinus Curae
This Chronicle is perfectly suited as a first game for inexperienced players, although it can be an interesting test as a departure for experienced players as well.
This Chronicle is best set in a smaller town or sheltered suburb. Even a rural setting would do, as long as it is relatively secluded from what would be considered to be the local center of Kindred society. For best results it should be set in an area with a central mortal population no greater than 50,000 people. Due to the extremely personal nature of this Chronicle and the fact that it deals with Kindred relationships with the Mortal world, it is best that the Storyteller use a locale that they know well and are able to people with realistic mortal citizens easily.
The story here is the truest exploration of the essence of V:tM - not the sects, clans, or politics of Kindred society, but the personal horror of becoming a vampire and learning to deal with this new and terrible reality. The characters will be people that know each other from their mortal lives, awakening on their first night together, without guidance and with only their former friends and neighbors to serve as prey. The twist comes in the form of a complete lack of guidance or knowledge about the characters' new condition. The characters will be unaware of Sects, Clans, or what is expected of them - much less what they can expect.
In this Chronicle the prime motivations of the characters will be survival, understanding, and coming to grips with what they have been transformed into. They must make their way in this new existence, deciding how they will adapt, making difficult choices as the demands of their new forms come into play.
A moderately sized Sabbat Pack blew into town a few days ago on their way to a meeting that was intended to end in the siege of the nearest large Camarilla-held city. For a few nights they raised hell in the town, terrorizing the locals and making a mess. During this period of hell-raising, the Pack Leaders elected to inflate their numbers with the ubiquitous cannon-fodder that always accompanies every Pack into a siege. Several of the local people were chosen, chased down, and captured - and the Creation Rites were begun.
Before the Rites could be completed and the new recruits fully inducted into the Pack, disaster struck. The local Camarilla were not so blind to the coming siege as the Sabbat wished to believe, and Hunting Parties had been dispatched to deal with the converging Packs before the Sabbat could gather in quantity. One such Hunting Party surprised this particular Pack during the Creation Rites, and the Pack was almost completely destroyed - with the survivors driven off into the night. Since the Camarilla in general is not fully aware of the details of Sabbat Creation Rites, they did not suspect the existence of several new recruits buried beneath the earth. The Camarilla Hunting Party left before dawn, and the new recruits were left alone, buried alive under a town suffering from several days of abuse and the aftermath of a Kindred war in their streets.
The following night sees the new recruits claw their way to the surface, half-mad and starved, and the story begins. From the first moment of their emergence, the story must follow the terror, horror, and realizations that will plague the new group of Kindred. (To best facilitate this, the Storyteller should allow that the characters witnessed enough of the Sabbat Pack to be aware that they were vampires, and hence that the characters themselves are now likely the same.) They will emerge in frenzy, and the first cognizant moments they experience will be following the first slaking of their Hunger. This should be where the interactive portion of the story begins, with each of the party recovering from the Frenzy - the bodies of their victims at their feet and the horror of what they have done before them.
What will they do?
Where will they go?
Where will they hide? Or will they hide at all?
How will they deal with the need to hunt?
How will they deal with each other?
All of these questions become the backbone to the unfolding story as these new Kindred choose to find or carve out a niche in the world.
While there is a great deal of open ground free for exploration created by the setup of this Chronicle, the Storyline does not unfold entirely in a vacuum. There are several plot twists and Story elements that can be introduced over time to further complicate the lives of these new Kindred.
If the characters are not careful and discreet it will only be a matter of time before reports of their activities reach Elder ears in the Camarilla. It is guaranteed that such reports would be responded to by the local Prince or Sheriff. Investigators would be sent to the town, and to the new Kindred, these Camarilla Kindred would be terrible agents of power and fear. A handful of Caitiff are no match for experienced Camarilla Kindred, and the story could very quickly take on the aspect of a flight from both mortal and immortal pursuers. It is possible that the characters could negotiate an induction into the Camarilla - most probably involving relocation to the nearest city and a new and painful period of 'learning the ropes', with their status and survival hinging on how well and quickly they adapt.
If the Storyteller chose to allow a few members of the original Pack to escape, a great threat to the characters exists on the horizon and may come to roost in the middle of their lives before long. The Sabbat's plans for a siege on the Camarilla may have been foiled, but a wise Bishop would heed the report of the Pack survivors - noting that several potential recruits were left behind. At the very least this would bear investigation, and the Camarilla is not the only Shadow force able to dig up reports of renegade kindred if the characters do not honor discretion. If a Camarilla investigator represents a frightening visitation, imagine the effect of another Sabbat Pack coming through town to collect the renegades.
Any Camarilla Prince that believes her city is devoid of Anarch sympathizers is a blind fool. If she believes that her every communication is perfectly secure and information is never leaked, she is worse than that. If reports of these renegades reach the Camarilla, they are equally likely to reach the Anarchs, and the Anarch movement is unlikely to turn down the opportunity to bolster its ranks with a few new and unspoiled members. An Anarch visitation to the town would likely be less frightening than either the Camarilla or the Sabbat, but it would be no less disruptive - in fact is likely to be even more disturbing, although ultimately more lenient with the characters.
The final potential plot twist is the Lone Drifter coming to town. An older and wiser Kindred properly interpreting stories of the strange happenings in the town and deciding to investigate for herself. This drifter would likely be one of two types - either a Gangrel from the surrounding area, or a Caitiff. Either way, this occurrence would open up a lot of plot and interaction potential.
Any number of other potential plot twists exist, depending on the taste of the Storyteller and the players. From a Vampire Hunter coming to town to an ever-tightening web of investigation by the local Law and Media, the plot elements are endless. The Storyteller that paces these new elements carefully and dramatically will find that this Chronicle can last indefinitely - with a nearly unlimited horizon of possibilities.
In this Chronicle, the initial options for the characters are almost unlimited. They can stay in their native town and lay low, trying to learn how to deal with what they are. They can suffer the temptations to abuse their new power, becoming terrifying dictators over a prisoner population of mortals. Whatever they do, they each must deal with several realities and situations as the story unfolds.
Family and friends - Will it be confrontation or mysterious disappearance? Did they injure or kill one of their loved ones in their first night when a latent homing urge combined with the Frenzy?
Vampiric realities and requirements - These characters will begin much akin to Caitiff, and will have to learn everything about themselves without outside guidance. (see the article on Creating a Caitiff Character in the Playing section, and the Overview of the Caitiff in the Sects section).
Mortal life versus unlife - Will they abandon their mortal lives completely from the first night, or will it be a slow and painful loss as they realize they cannot continue as they were and keep their secret forever? Will they keep the secret successfully? (This is an important consideration to remember should the Camarilla come to town. The Camarilla investigator would consider the Masquerade to be a paramount concern, and might be somewhat ruthless in dealing with any breaches the characters might have created.)
Every group of characters needs a reason to stick together and play nice with each other (at least on the surface). For this group the principle cohesion comes from the sudden common ground they have gained. They share a problem unique to them, and will encounter similar tribulations as they investigate their new condition. A great deal of character growth and interaction can come from the group simply relating to each other and exchanging support, sympathy, and ideas. Even the most diverse collection of individuals can become a cohesive unit during a shared traumatic situation. (An excellent example of this is the 1999 movie 'The Faculty'.)
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Thank you, and happy gaming!